Best Cities for Homeownership in Kansas

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By Cherise Fantus

There’s good news for Kansas: Home sales are set to increase by 5.3% this year, according to researchers at Wichita State University Center for Real Estate, and home prices are to appreciate by 2.4%.

One reason for the increase in home sales is new jobs in the state. Kansas gained 16,800 jobs from April 2013 to April 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state, from 2012 to 2013, saw a 2.4% increase in personal income, which was just below the national average of 2.6%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

NerdWallet crunched the numbers for the 59 communities in Kansas with more than 5,000 residents to determine which are the best for homebuyers. Here’s what those cities had in common:

  • Five of the top 10 cities are suburbs of Kansas City, and four are suburbs of Wichita.
  • Home values were less than $200,000 in most of the top 20 cities on our list.
  • Four of our top 10 cities saw over 5% population growth from 2010 to 2012.

To help new residents buy homes, the state offers programs for homebuyers, including the First Time Homebuyer Program and the Homeownership Set-Aside Program. Homebuyer education is also available through multiple agencies, and those in rural areas can get assistance from USDA Rural Housing Programs.

Our analysis finding the best cities for homeownership in Kansas answers three main questions:

1. Are homes available? We looked at the area’s homeownership rate to determine the availability of homes. A low homeownership rate is likely a signal of competitive inventory, more options for renters rather than buyers and expensive housing. Areas with a high homeownership rate led to a higher overall score.

2. Can you afford to live there? We looked at median household income, monthly homeowner costs and median home value to assess affordability and determine whether residents could live comfortably in the area. We used monthly homeowner costs to measure cost of living. Areas with high median incomes and low cost of living scored higher.

3. Is the area growing? We measured population growth to ensure that the area is attracting new residents and showing signs of solid growth. This is likely a signal of a robust local economy, which is another attractive characteristic for homebuyers.

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For more details on our methodology, please see the section at the end of the report.

For more details on our methodology, see the section at the end of this study. For a full ranking of all 59 places and to download the raw data, click here.

Top 10 Cities for Homeownership in Kansas

1. Andover

Andover has the second highest median monthly household income on our top 10 list at $7,023, and only 22.2% of that goes toward homeowner costs. This Wichita suburb has 61 miles of sidewalks and offers fun community events throughout the year, including a BBQ festival and concerts outdoors.

2. Spring Hill

This Kansas City suburb features Sycamore Ridge Golf Course, which has earned mentions from national golf and travel experts. Spring Hill has a high median monthly household income of $6,117 and has experienced strong population growth of 7.9% between 2010 and 2012. Job opportunities are available at TAP Enterprises, a tool distributor with headquarters in Spring Hill, and at AGC Glass Company North America, a glass producer that has a facility in the community.

3. Derby

Derby homeowners pay 24.2% of their monthly incomes toward homeowner costs, making it one of the more affordable places on our list. The largest suburb of Wichita is home to the annual Derby BBQ Festival, which includes grilling competitions and lots of food to sample. Derby’s major industry is manufacturing, with jobs in the sector making up 21% of employment.

4. Bel Aire

Most of the homes in Bel Aire are owned rather than rented, and it has one of the highest homeownership rates on our list at 88.4%. The nonprofit KaBOOM! named the Wichita suburb one of its playful cities of 2014, a designation awarded to cities that prioritize active play for children. The city’s population grew by 2.5% between 2010 and 2012.

5. Gardner

Another suburb of Kansas City, and 10 miles northwest of Spring Hill, Gardner experienced population growth of 9% from 2010 to 2012, the fastest growth rate among our top 10. Employment opportunities are available in Kansas City and also at the Coleman Co. distribution center, which opened in 2010. The school system earned a GreatSchools.org rating of 8 out of 10, based on standardized test scores.

6. Park City

Another Wichita suburb, Park City in Sedgwick County has low homeowner costs at $1,226 per month, and an affordable median home value of $105,300. Homes are available in the seven new housing subdivisions in the area. The recently renovated Kansas Coliseum hosts concerts, rodeos, swap meets, livestock, equestrian and dog events, and more.

7. Lansing

Lansing holds several community activities throughout the year, including Lansing Daze, the Independence Day Celebration and Autumn in the Grove. The Kansas City suburb’s top employers are the Lansing Correctional Facility and Lansing Unified School District. The recent Main Street Enhancement Project expanded Main Street to four lanes to improve businesses access along the route. Lansing’s median monthly household income of $6,094 is among the highest incomes on our list.

8. Ulysses

With one of the lowest median home values on our list at $86,500, and similarly low monthly homeowner costs at $983, the city of Ulysses is very affordable. The city is located in southwestern Kansas, within 40 miles of both the Oklahoma and Colorado borders. When residents need a break, they head to Bentwood Golf Course or nearby Frazier Lake.

9. Leawood

Though Leawood is one of the more expensive places on our list, it has the highest homeownership rate on our list at 93%.  During 2013, the city saw a surge in new residential and commercial developments, which is great news for future homebuyers.  Leawood is not only an attractive place for homeowners, but it has also attracted the attention of new businesses. Last year, AMC Entertainment moved its global headquarters to the city.

10. Olathe

Another suburb of Kansas City, Olathe is an affordable place for homeowners with median monthly homeowner costs taking up just 26.2% of median monthly household income and a median home value of $194,600.  The city has also seen strong population growth at 4.2%.

 

Rank City Nearest Big City Home Ownership Rate Median Selected Monthly Homeowner Costs Median Monthly Household Income Homeowner costs as a percentage of household income Median Home Values 2010-2012 Population Growth Overall Score for Home Owners
1 Andover Wichita 84.4% $1,562 $7,023 22.2% $169,800 6.7% 79.3
2 Spring Hill Kansas City 82.5% $1,569 $6,117 25.6% $161,300 7.9% 77.8
3 Derby Wichita 72.8% $1,325 $5,486 24.2% $147,800 7.9% 73.7
4 Bel Aire Wichita 88.4% $1,445 $5,776 25.0% $148,600 2.5% 72.0
5 Gardner Kansas City 73.9% $1,560 $5,381 29.0% $160,800 9.0% 71.5
6 Park City Wichita 82.1% $1,226 $4,771 25.7% $105,300 2.1% 68.8
7 Lansing Kansas City 80.7% $1,505 $6,094 24.7% $162,900 2.7% 67.3
8 Ulysses Ulysses 73.4% $983 $4,012 24.5% $86,500 1.8% 64.8
9 Leawood Kansas City 93.0% $2,634 $11,187 23.5% $391,700 2.0% 63.2
10 Olathe Kansas City 73.7% $1,679 $6,407 26.2% $194,600 4.2% 63.0
11 Haysville Wichita 70.1% $1,177 $4,567 25.8% $101,500 2.7% 62.6
12 Abilene Salina 73.1% $1,056 $4,353 24.3% $114,400 0.6% 61.2
13 Eudora Lawrence 62.6% $1,394 $5,215 26.7% $145,800 5.7% 60.8
14 Junction City Manhattan 50.2% $1,267 $3,854 32.9% $124,400 11.6% 60.2
15 Prairie Village Kansas City 79.5% $1,590 $6,987 22.8% $208,600 (0.4%) 59.8
16 McPherson Salina 73.8% $1,106 $4,575 24.2% $120,900 (0.5%) 59.1
17 Shawnee Kansas City 71.9% $1,681 $6,112 27.5% $199,500 3.4% 58.7
18 Mulvane Wichita 85.5% $1,270 $5,705 22.3% $122,000 (5.3%) 58.7
19 Liberal Liberal 63.7% $961 $3,824 25.1% $85,600 1.9% 58.4
20 Valley Center Wichita 78.7% $1,283 $4,514 28.4% $134,000 (0.3%) 58.1

For a full ranking of all 59 places and to download the raw data, click here.

Methodology

The overall score for each city was derived from each of these measures:

1. Homeownership rate made up 33.3% of the total score. A higher rate earned a higher score. The rate comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

2. Selected monthly owner costs as a percentage of median household income made up 16.7% of the total score. A lower percentage earned a higher score. Monthly homeowner costs as a percentage of median household income made up one-half of the affordability score. Median household income comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 03. The figure for monthly homeowner costs comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

3. Median home value made up 16.7% of the total score. A lower value earned a higher score. Median home value made up one-half of the affordability score. Median home value comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

4. Population change from 2010 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. A higher percent change earned a higher score. The 2010 population comes from the 2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 05. The 2012 population data comes from the 2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 05. NerdWallet calculated the percent change.

Only places with 5,000 or more residents were included in the study. Cities were excluded from the top 20 ranking for higher than average crime according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report http://1.usa.gov/1j7sNtz

Image: Brian McGuirk/Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/2Bcvkf